As web workers and small business owners, the personal and business sides of our lives often overlap. While it’s easy to see that relationship when, say, we have to stop work each day to pick up the kids from school, it’s not always so obvious when little changes or disruptions in our personal lives start negatively impacting our ability to work productively. Here are just a few of those sneaky disruptions.
Sneaky Disruption #1: Poor Diet or Changes in Diet
I’m terrible about this. I don’t always eat breakfast and will instead substitute with a cup of coffee. I don’t have a set schedule and will eat at odd times throughout the day, and when I finally do eat, it’s generally something quick and easy (and rarely healthy).
How to beat it: While it’s very tempting and easy to want to eat unhealthy convenience foods, we pay for it in energy and in our ability to concentrate. We feel much better and are way more productive when we maintain a balanced diet.
Sneaky Disruption #2: Lack of Exercise
Exercise often seems like a luxury. Who has time for it? Although we obviously have more energy, can manage stress better, and have increased concentration and stamina when we maintain a good exercise routine, it’s very hard to put it into practice.
How to beat it: With the nice spring weather, my trick for the past month or so has been to have a set time to “leave work” each day and go out for a one-hour walk. When I get back, I generally work another hour or two, but the key for me has been a consistent wrap-up time. At about 3:30 each day, I start making my way out the door.
Sneaky Disruption #3: Poor or Changing Sleep Habits
Sleep is another one of those things that can disrupt our energy and concentration levels, and just like with diet and exercise, it’s easy to slip up in this department. Going to bed at varying times, falling asleep with the television on, eating before bedtime, and a variety of other bad habits can chip away at the amount of time devoted to a good night’s sleep.
How to beat it: This is another place for a good routine. I find that the best solution is a regular bedtime routine that signals to my brain that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. I generally have to start an hour and a half to two hours ahead of the time I want to be asleep, but it probably varies for each person. Find the routine that works best for you and then do your absolute best to stick to it.
Sneaky Disruption #4: Isolation/Loneliness
Let’s face it. Web working can be very isolating, and while we might interact with people all day through emails, phone calls and social networking online, it’s not quite the same as in-person interaction.
How to beat it: Make it a point to get out into the land of the living sometimes (preferably at regular intervals). I’m finding that simply seeing and being surrounded by people on my daily walks makes me feel more connected, but take it a step further by setting up time out with friends and family and away from the computer screen.
Sneaky Disruption #5: Feeling Crowded or Suffocated
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are times when it’s easy to feel crowded or suffocated. Everyone needs time alone to recharge and get centered. There are times, say when company comes to visit for a few days or so, when you might begin feeling like people are encroaching on your space a bit too much.
How to beat it: Take a walk, a long bath, or go out for a cup of coffee to squeeze in a little time on your own. While it’s fun to have guests around to liven things up a bit, you have to know your own limits and build in that much-needed personal space.
Sneaky Disruption #6: Life Changes
A move, a new baby, a divorce, a death in the family — these are just a few of the life-changing events that can impact our ability to concentrate on work. They often happen unexpectedly and when things are very busy or chaotic within our businesses, making it even harder to manage everything and not become overwhelmed.
How to beat it: During these times, it’s even more important to take care of yourself. Stick to eating healthily, exercising regularly and getting as much sleep as you can. Seek the support of friends and family (both online and off) to help you get through it, and remember that things will get easier with time.
Sneaky Disruption #7: Health Issues
There are times when nagging symptoms can indicate underlying health issues that really need to be addressed. As web workers and solo business owners, the thought of expensive treatments and medications can keep us from taking care of our overall health, and although it’s easy to put our personal needs last more often than not, our health should never take backseat.
How to beat it: Get regular checkups with your doctor. If you’re taking care of yourself in every other way and still feel like something is off, get it checked out. Don’t put it off. Also, check out Georgina’s Web Worker’s Health Care Plan.
Although there are times when big life stresses and underlying health issues can negatively impact our work, it’s often the little things that have the biggest impact on our ability to get things done. We notice a lag in our creativity or that we’re easily frustrated by things that normally don’t affect us, and we start to wonder what’s going on. Many times, if we’ll just step back and think about things that might be a little off kilter in our personal lives, we can pinpoint the likely culprit that’s negatively impacting our work.
What sneaky disruptions impact your ability to work effectively?